We’ve already reviewed Peter Jackson’s documentary based on Michael Lindsay Hogg’s original footage of The Beatles: Get Back — now on Disney+. But let’s talk about the Beatles concert at the end…better yet, let’s talk about the feature, IMAX: The Beatles: Get Back – The Rooftop Concert. It will make you weep for a time long gone.
Admittedly, I have not been able to get beyond the first half of the first episode of the Disney+ series. The IMAX feature opens with the brief historical prologue from the first episode but is pretty much only the concert footage. But it is pretty much the last half of the final episode…the actual concert blown up to glorious IMAX proportions.
First, Jackson goes through the technicals of the concert, which would be the last public performance of The Beatles and served as the recordings for five songs on the Let It Be album. Original director Michael Lindsay Hogg used nine cameras. Five cameras (stationary and handheld) captured the concert up close, and one was situated on the rooftop of the building across the street. Two more were on the street for crowd reactions, and one camera was hidden in the Apple Corps reception room (which would provide invaluable footage). Finally, producer George Martin is in the engineering room…because they’re recording songs for an album.
“…the concert, which would be the last public performance of The Beatles and served as the recordings for five songs on the Let It Be album.”
IMAX: The Beatles: Get Back – The Rooftop Concert officially begins with John, Paul, George, and Ringo stepping onto the rooftop with a modest film crew and recording staff in tow. I should also mention that Billy Preston is there playing keyboards. The Beatles open with a quick rehearsal of Get Back, which garners the attention of the homes and businesses along Savile Road. After a brief pause, the concert officially begins with Get Back and continues with the setlist of Don’t Let Me Down, I’ve Got A Feeling, One After 909, Dig a Pony, and second takes of I’ve Got A Feeling and Don’t Let Me Down. Then, to piss off the cops, Paul goes for another take of Get Back.
I’m not saying anything you haven’t seen in the Disney+ documentary. Jackson intercuts the concert with on-the-street interviews of random bystanders being asked if they knew who was singing and whether or not they liked The Beatles. The comedy comes when two police officers show up at the Apple Corp. offices with complaints about the noise. They need to talk to whoever is in charge and Apple Corp. execs employ subtle stall tactics to stretch the visit to over forty-five minutes. One priceless moment occurred when Paul looked over his shoulder and saw the cops coming through the access door. Of course, Paul’s reaction is priceless, considering John is way into his performance.
"…each one’s personality [shines] through."